Over the past several years, a number of oil and gas companies have come under fire for failing to pay their workers overtime pay. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of oil and gas workers who say they’re not getting paid properly and the Department of Labor (DOL) has even launched special initiatives to help these workers get their money back. These lawsuits continue to move forward, with one resulting in a $1.25 million payout, while the DOL has recovered millions of dollars for workers who weren’t getting overtime wages when they should have been.
The fact is, the Department of Labor says that the majority of employees are entitled to overtime. There are, of course, exceptions – but these are extremely limited and largely inapplicable to oil and gas workers.
Most employees working in the oil and gas industry are paid on a day-rate basis. These workers may be paid a day rate only or a salary plus day rate (also known as a “field bonus” or “shift rate”). Unfortunately, some employers make the mistake of believing that employees working on a “day rate” basis aren’t entitled to overtime.
Just because employees are paid on “day rate” doesn’t mean the employer isn’t obligated to keep track of their hours – and pay them extra if they’re working more than 40 hours per week. Furthermore, it’s a common misconception that paying someone well beyond the minimum wage or on a salary basis means that the worker isn’t entitled to overtime. In most situations, federal labor law requires that most employees earn 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a single workweek – and day rate employees are no exception.
Field, production, attendance and safety bonuses are common in the oil and gas industry. If a company isn’t taking this compensation into account when calculating an hourly employee’s “regular rate” (for the purposes of paying overtime), it may be cheating its employees out of proper pay.
Some companies have also been accused of misclassifying welders, roughnecks, crane operations and other workers with special skills and services as “freelance” or “independent” contractors. There are a number of reasons why a company may classify a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee – including that they don’t have to pay them overtime. It’s important to remember, however, that just because your company calls you an independent contractor doesn’t mean that you actually are one. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed across a number of industries on behalf of workers who said they were misclassified as contractors and, as a result, cheated out of overtime pay. You can read about these lawsuits here.
In the past several years, the DOL has carried out hundreds of investigations into the oil and gas industry. This initiative has resulted in:
On top of the DOL’s initiative, dozens of lawsuits have been filed and continue to make their way through the courts. In May 2015, a $1.25 million settlement was reached for oil and gas employees at ROC Service Co., while just a few months later an Oklahoma mudlogging company agreed to a $1.4 million agreement to resolve a proposed class action seeking unpaid overtime.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating lawsuits on behalf of all oil and gas workers who weren’t paid overtime. These employees may include:
This list is not exhaustive.
Get in touch with us by filling out the form on this page. After you contact us, one of the attorneys we work with may call or e-mail you to learn more about your job and how you’re being paid. If the attorney believes you’re not getting paid properly, he or she can explain how a lawsuit could help you recover your unpaid overtime wages.
Employers are prohibited by federal law from retaliating against employees who exercise their legal rights and you’re never obligated to file a lawsuit after contacting us. Plus, there’s no cost to talk to an attorney and learn more about your options.
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